Running can be a great form of exercise. However, we want to first preface this blog by saying, if you are not already running as your main form of exercise and haven’t been doing it for a while, pregnancy is not the time to start a running program.
Walking? Yes, great. But running is a little bit too high impact and it is not something that we should start up during pregnancy, if it’s something that we have never done before.
If you are an avid runner and have been running prior to pregnancy and want to continue to run through pregnancy, as long as your doctor deems it safe and appropriate for you, you are okay to do that. We wanted to share some potential exercises that you might want to incorporate into your warm up so you protect a few vulnerable areas of your body during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, hormone levels change and ligaments loosen up a little bit especially around the pelvis to make room for the growing baby. The loosening of the ligaments can put some extra strain through your pelvis and hips through the muscles in the hips, pelvic floor and buttocks.
Here are the 6 exercises that you may find helpful to keep you running safely and comfortably and injury free through your pregnancy. These should be done as warm ups before your run, and can be done on a daily basis.
1. PELVIC FLOOR STRENGTHENING
- These muscles make up the bottom of your pelvis and support the baby and pelvic organs, so they are taking a big load through them. To do a contraction of the pelvic floor muscles, think about it as if you are trying to stop the flow or urine or hold back gas or if you are trying it while sitting, trying to lift your vagina up from the ground.
- You can either do this in sitting or standing, try to hold for about 5 seconds and then relax, and repeat about 10 repetitions. If you’re trying this and you’re not feeling anything happen, then this may be a good time to partner with the pelvic floor physical therapist to make sure that you are correctly finding and using your pelvic floor muscles because these guys are very important during pregnancy, labor and delivery and the recovery afterwards.
2. CALF STRETCHES
- Get into a lunge position so one leg is in front and the other leg back a little bit in a lunge position with your feet around shoulder width apart. For the back leg, make sure your toes are pointing forward and your heel stays on the ground. Shift your body weight forward over the front leg, You should feel a pull or stretch in the back of your calf on the leg that’s in the back. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3x and switch to the other side.
3. HIP FLEXOR STRETCH
- Get into the same lunge position as calf stretch but instead of working on keeping the back heel on the ground, let the heel pop up a little bit and tuck the pelvis underneath you like you’re trying to push the pelvis forward, and push your back leg forward to get the stretch into the hip flexors on the front of the thigh. Hold for 30 seconds, repeat 3x and do on both sides.
4. BIRD DOG
- This is an exercise to strengthen up the hip muscles. Get onto your hands and knees, pull your belly in and keep it firm through the trunk, raise one arm up and out in front of you while letting the opposite leg go back behind you. The goal is to stay nice and still through the trunk. You shouldn’t be wavering back and forth, side to side when you do it. Alternating back and forth, lift opposite arm and leg up for 20 repetitions total.
5. HIP EXTENSION ON HANDS & KNEES
- This is an exercise to strengthen your buttocks, Get onto your hands and knees, and straighten one leg out behind you and pulse it up towards the ceiling and back down. If it’s uncomfortable doing it with the leg straight, you can have the knee bent and so it’s more like pulsing the heel up towards the ceiling. Make sure your trunk stays nice and still, and do 20 repetitions on each side.
6. SIDELYING LEG LIFTS
- This is an exercise to strengthen the muscles on the side of your hips. Get onto your side, bend your bottom leg and straighten your top leg out. You are going to lift the top leg up and down towards the ceiling. Repeat 20 repetitions per side.
This set is a quick warm up for pregnant moms who like to run. If you would like further assistance to keep you running as safe and comfortable as you can throughout pregnancy, give us a call here at legacy physical therapy.